• Hockfinal6

    David Hockney: Winter Timber (2009) (Pic Jonathan Wilkinson)

  • Hockfinal7

    David Hockney: Winter Timber (2009) cont.

  • Dh1

    David Hockney: The Road Across the Wolds (1997)

  • Hockfinal3

    David Hockney: A Closer Winter Tunnel, February – March (2006)

  • Hockfinal4

    David Hockney: A Closer Winter Tunnel, February – March (2006) cont.

  • Dh3

    David Hockney: The Big Hawthorne (2008)

  • Hockfinal1

    David Hockney: Woldgate Woods 21, 23 & 29 November 2006 (2006)

  • Hockfinal2

    David Hockney: Woldgate Woods 21, 23 & 29 November 2006 (2006) cont.

Art

What's On: David Hockney

Posted by Rob Alderson,

The first blockbuster show of 2012 opened this week amid massive acclaim, with critics lining up to celebrate the man named the most influential British artist among a recent poll of 1,000 contemporary creatives. We spoke to Edith Devaney, curator of the major David Hockney landscape retrospective at The Royal Academy, about the challenges of putting on such an anticipated show and what she hopes to achieve in the academy’s hallowed halls.

The rich, sometimes daring palette, the instinctive feel for personality – be it people or places – the eye for composition, the restless urge to evolve and reinvent, it’s not hard to see why so many hail Hockney as one of their key influences.

This new show David Hockney: A Bigger Picture is inspired by that restless reinvention in more ways than one. In 2007 the highlight of the RA summer show was Bigger Trees Near Warter, a mammoth 50 panel Yorkshire landscape which marked a renewed passion for the county where he grew up and where he now spends more and more of his time. It was that picture which prompted the discussions which led to this show although the piece itself will not be on display.

Much has also been made of the inclusion of various iPad paintings in this show – The Evening Standard dubbed him “The iPriest of Art” and he has tickled many interviewers by knocking up miniature Hockneys on his iPhone.

But he himself has mocked the iPriest moniker, ridiculing the obsession with “computer art” in a Sunday Times article as “daft.” “What did Leonardo use to paint the Mona Lisa?” he said. “Well he used brushes; so if I can get a brush I can do do that, can’t I? No! A brush, like a computer, is merely a tool.”

This is a man who at one time or another has worked with oil, acrylic, crayon, with collage, etching and aquatints, heck he even designed works using fax machines. In this show alone there’s oils, watercolours, charcoal drawings and film along with the much-heralded iPad pieces.

And rather than suggesting a swing to landscape in this new show, rather curator Edith Devaney wants to, “trace Hockney’s development as a landscape painter.” 

She said: “His early works introduce many of the themes which will recur in the more recent work. In the landscape work Hockney examines the role of memory and imagination, he explores perspective, he examines the changes to the landscape brought about by changing light and seasons.”

Hockney, like The Impressionists loves capturing this change, the way a tree, pond or path can look completely different from one day to the next. He paints wherever possible en plein air, bundling materials into his car and scouring the Yorkshire countryisde which spots which capture his imagination.

Again the tempting narrative – the spiritual homecoming of the Californian emigre – is insufficient, as Hockney has pointed out just how wild Los Angeles actually is.

But even though drawing simplistic conclusions should be avoided, that does not mean the show will not raise a few eyebrows.

As Edith Devaney puts it: “It is building a story which tracks the artist’s thinking that provides the discipline. Hockney is an artist who is constantly developing and employing different tools in image making.  As a result there are new bodies of work which will be shown here for the first time and which will be surprising to even the most knowledgeable Hockney followers.” 
 
She knows expectations are high, and that working with a living legend can bring its own complications, but she is full of praise for the way the preparations have gone.

“Of course there is an additional pressure when working with a living artist to present their work in the best possible way, but this is balanced (certainly in this particular case) with having the benefit of the artist’s input in curatorial decisions.  Both I and my co-curator, Marco Livingstone, have met very regularly with the artist to consult with him on every aspect of the exhibition’s development 

“In this case it was very much a collaboration which had added hugely to the strength of the exhibition. Hockney is a very generous artist to work with and is very interested in considering other ways of looking at the subject or presenting work. 

“As this exhibition is so much about evoking a sense of place, to have the artist closely involved in the process of exhibition selection and design was invaluable. Marco and I have both known David for a number of years (in Marco’s case for 35); so we all came into the project with a good understanding of both the work, and how we could all work together.”

And here at the top of 2012, with The Cultural Olympiad and a slew of big-name shows ready to compete for attention in this year when so many eyes are on London, is there a pressure being first? 

“It’s exciting.  It feels very appropriate for one of our most celebrated British artists to ’open’ this wonderful cultural event.”

David Hockney: A Bigger Picture runs until April 9.

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. List

    Head down to Southwark Street just south of the River Thames, and you’ll find Alex Chinneck’s large-scale project, A pound of flesh for 50p. Starting as a life-size two-storey house made out of 8,000 wax bricks, the sculpture will eventually be a mess of rooftop and melted wax come mid-November.

  2. List

    Several artists have attempted to respond to the nude photo scandal, in which private photographs of a number of celebrities were hacked from Apple’s iCloud software and leaked on sites like 4chan and Reddit earlier this year, but few have had any success in harnessing the sense of shock and the eery echo of “have you seen them?” which rippled through the internet in the aftermath.

  3. List-willy

    Writing is rarely a chore. However, sometimes you find yourself working on a piece that reaffirms why internships spent schlepping round Covent Garden in the pissing rain on breakfast compote runs, and hours practising writing “multi-storey carpark” in shorthand are more than worth the irritation.

  4. List

    I don’t care how nice the wallpaper or the lampshades may be, there’s something creepy about the stereotypical American motel featured in films, novels and plays. As if expressly to prove my point, artist Airco Caravan created a series called Crime Scene in which she paints the rooms that have previously played host to murders, suicides and accidental deaths.

  5. List

    Swedish creative Henrik Franklin is a designer, illustrator and animator with two of the world’s leading design schools (Konstfack in Sweden and Rhode Island School of Design) sparkling on his CV. Invited to showcase his considerable talents in Anna Lidberg’s Gallery 1:10 – “the miniature gallery for contemporary art” – Henrik produced a table of tiny tomes and the attention-to-detail on each cover design is really impressive.

  6. Main

    Victoria Siddall has worked at Frieze for just over a decade and two years ago was made Director of Frieze Masters. Excitingly, just a few weeks ago she was appointed Director of Frieze Masters, Frieze New York and Frieze London. As well as being one of the most powerful women in the art world, Victoria is also my sister, so I was curious to find out how she’s feeling on the dawn of her new career.

  7. List

    The Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern has an incredible presence when it’s void of installations, which is what’s so wonderful about the huge enclosed space. As much as I admire the vast emptiness though, it’s even more exciting when a piece of work is placed in the hall and interrupts the vacuum. Opening today, American sculptor Richard Tuttle is the latest commissioned artist to show his work in the space and his 24ft sculpture certainly makes an impact.

  8. Main2

    I came across the work of Matthias Geisler over on Booooooom the other day and was reminded that we hadn’t posted something like this in a while. Matthias’ work is a swirling blend of spirits and creatures that are created with meticulous use of pencil crayons and water-colours. Is it me or are watercolours real in at the moment? All the cool kids seem to be using them.

  9. 8

    A kind of magic happens when Seth Armstrong puts brush to canvas. Having only been familiar with his work for the Mr Porter Journal, I became instantly bewitched by his paintings when clicking through his website.

  10. List

    Whatever the some naysayers may claim there is an art to collage and not everyone can do it, despite how good you think your teenage collages of cut-out red lips, Leonardo DiCaprio and puppies were. Anthony Zinonos is the perfect example of this, having featured on the site previously he’s updated his portfolio with some really cool bits and bobs.

  11. List

    There’s something very fun and raw about Jessica Hans’ vases and her approach to ceramics in general. Based in Philadelphia, she’s had a longstanding interest in foraging and raw materials since university; this has carried over into her ceramics work, which in the past has seen her driving to clay sites, digging her materials out of the ground and then firing them in their original state to see what would happen.

  12. Listt

    “To be an artist and for anyone to care vaguely about what you do is a great thing,” says street artist Moose in this fascinating new Nissan campaign, but his work is more important than most. As the inventor of reverse graffiti – whereby he uses a high-powered pressure washer to stencil imagery in the dirt that accumulates in our cities – Moose’s work asks questions about our attitudes to pollution in a very creative way.

  13. List

    To stare into a Danny Fox painting is like waking up in a world written by Charles Bukowski on a particularly heavy bender. There’s sex and drinking and guns, plus boxers and strippers and cowboys; here a horse, there a tiger. It’s intense and unnerving and exciting, but although there’s something very contemporary about Danny’s paintings, his rise to prominence owes a great deal to the support of a more well-established artist (an age-old route for up-and-coming artistic stars).